Students on F-1 or M-1 visas who plan to take a fully online semester are prohibited from staying in the United States for the fall, according to a set of guidelines released yesterday by United States Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
International students currently in the United States enrolled in fully-online programs are advised to “depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status.” Additional measures later listed include taking “a reduced course load or appropriate medical leave.”
Students who do not comply “may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”
Nonimmigrant F-1 students whose schools will be combining in-person and online instruction — such as UR — may remain in the US if the school certifies through the Form I-20 “that the program is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load this semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program.”
“F-1 students in English language training programs or M-1 students pursuing vocational degrees,” may not enroll in any online courses and stay in the United States, even if they attend a school offering both online and in-person courses.
The status of F-1 students attending schools offering solely in-person classes will be subject to “existing federal regulations,” and eligible F students “may take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online.”
Jane Gatewood, Vice Provost for Global Engagement, sent out a message in response to the guidelines today. The International Students Office will be holding a town hall later in the week to discuss these changes, and to provide a detailed summary of how students will be affected, according to the message.
“We know that this latest announcement from ICE has caused a great deal of concern and anxiety for our international students” Gatewood writes. “Please know that we’re here to support you.” Students with questions can reach out to Ravi Shankar, Assistant Vice Provost and Director of the International Services Office, at firstname.lastname@example.org.